American Graduate | KERA News

American Graduate

Leslie Beltran didn’t think she’d ever graduate from high school. After she got pregnant at 15 and dropped out, she tells KERA’s Krys Boyd, “Education really didn’t cross my mind. It didn’t seem as important to me as having the baby.”

Willow Blythe / KERA News

On this first day of school for most kids across the state, we check in with one of the North Texas students we’re following from 8th grade all the way to graduation. Today, we catch up with a member of KERA’s Class of 17 – Ricky Rijos Jr., who’s starting his freshman year at Flower Mound High.

Willow Blythe / KERA News

Last week, we introduced you to Chance Hawkins, a 15-year-old teen battling Duchenne muscular dystrophy who maintains a positive outlook on life in spite of the physical and academic challenges he’s facing. He failed the STAAR test at Dunbar Middle School and his mom was determined to find a smaller school for him.

Texas Graduation rates continue to go up and have a reached a new record high, Commissioner of Education Michael Williams said Tuesday.

A study released by the Texas Education Agency shows the Class of 2012 had a graduation rate of 87.7 percent up from 85.9 percent in 2011. The graduation rate has steadily increased since the class of 2007 when 78 percent of students graduated.

Willow Blythe / KERA News

Like most 14-year-olds, Jerry Harris is out of school for the summer. That means time to take it easy and hang out with friends. But for Jerry, it also means a contract -- one that he wrote -- to start many mornings at 5:30 a.m. and, as he printed in block letters, to "WORK."

Jerry's one of the students KERA is following all the way through high school in the series Class of '17, part of the station’s American Graduate initiative. And as tough as that summer contract might be, even tougher is what comes in just three weeks: high school.

Everyone agrees that graduation is a crucial milestone on the path to adulthood. And according to a recent Education Week report, the national graduation rate has actually increased to nearly 75 percent – a level not seen since the 1970s.

Willow Blythe / KERA News

Heading to high school is a challenge for any kid. There are new friends, new teachers and the normal ups and downs of being a teenager.

For 15-year-old Chance Hawkins, the road is even tougher. Chance has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease that causes muscle weakness and deterioration. It’s often fatal by age 25.

Still, Chance is an upbeat kid. He's one of the students we’re following from 8th grade through high school for the series Class of 17, part of KERA’s American Graduate initiative.

More than 240 Dallas students who had quit school got their diplomas over the weekend.  In a continuation of KERA’s American Graduate project, Shelley Kofler looks at how they beat the odds.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

For eighth grade students heading to high school, summer’s supposed to be a fun time. But for one Mesquite girl, it’s been kind of stressful. In this installment of KERA’s series Class of ’17, we meet Alex Gutierrez who didn’t have the math grades to get into the private high school she wanted. Now, she’s going to have to get through summer school to advance to the ninth grade.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Making the jump from middle to high school is one of those big moments in a kid’s life. In the latest installment of KERA’s education series Class of ’17, we meet Kelli Bowdy and her strongest educational influence, her grandmother, at the 8th grade graduation ceremony at Morningside Middle School in Fort Worth.

Bill Zeeble / KERA

As part of a nationwide public broadcasting initiative called American Graduate, KERA is following a diverse group of North Texas eighth graders all the way through high school. Today in the series “Class of ’17,” we meet a kid whose dad dropped out of college but passed on a love of hoops and a passion for hard work.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

The statistics are shocking: One of every four kids in an American high school drops out. That’s why KERA has joined a national public broadcasting initiative, called American Graduate, to explore the dropout crisis. Today, we’re starting a new series called Class of ’17 that will follow a handful of North Texas eighth graders from across the economic and ethnic spectrum all the way to high school graduation. First up: a 13-year-old dealing with his parents' divorce and a learning disability -- on the basketball court.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

In the battle to keep students in school, experts often target the ends of the educational spectrum: early childhood, when kids pick up basic skills, and high school, when most dropouts happen. But some are starting to look in a different direction – the middle.

Janine Khammash / KERA News

Texas schools lose one out of every four students who drop out between 9th and 12th grades. The problem is especially alarming for Hispanic and black males, who are more than twice as likely to leave school. So what's gone wrong?

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